music sad face

Well. The music industry is in really bad shape.

They sold 500.5 million albums last year. An ‘album’ these days take on many different forms; compact discs, cassettes and the actual and occasional LP – vinyl for those of you who don’t know what an LP is. Apparently, that’s down nearly 10 % from the year before and that’s cause for panic in the old music industry.

I’ve never been particularly good with math, but let me take a stab at this. 500 million ‘albums’ sold. Let’s say roughly $14.99 per album. That’s $7,495,000,000.00.

Clearly, that’s just not enough money.

By the way, my numbers are coming from a New York Times article that’s using numbers from Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks point of sale purchases. Those same numbers show that sales of digital music – purchasing single tracks from online stores like iTunes, ROSE 45% from 588.2 Million in 2006 to 844.2 Million in 2007.

I bring all this up because I keep reading articles and seeing news stories that talk about how cd sales are down, digital track sales are up, how the music industry just doesn’t understand it and, most importantly, how they are struggling over the lack of sales. Oh, and they keep trying to make more money on individual tracks. They even try to force the issue whenever they can.

The iTunes model works. It works for a couple of reasons; 1) $0.99 per track is gold. Who wouldn’t pay $0.99 for a song? 2) If you like a song, you can go pay a buck and download it. Simple. You don’t have to goto the store, search through the rows of cd’s, get asked three times if you’re “doing all right?”, stand in line to pay while checkout guy A flirts with checkout gal B and pretends not to see you standing there, mess with all the stickers and cellophane wrapping on the cd case and then wade through 13 tracks of utter and total shit to get to the one song you actually like.

Like I said – pay a buck get the song you actually want – it’s gold.

…unless you’re the music industry who invested millions of dollars in producing the other 13 pieces of crap on that album. See, that’s the real reason for them trying to get more money out of the songs that are actually selling – they want to cover their costs in the crap they are pushing out the door that no one wants.

But if you think about it, there’s a better solution that would make everyone happy – no need to raise the price, no need to try and setup competition to iTunes that will charge whatever prices the music industry tells them to, bog us down in subscriptions and DRM and make us want to claw our ears out in frustration. No, all they have to do, and this is the key here – all they have to do is: NOT PRODUCE CRAP!

Simple, I know. Elegant even. Which is why it’ll probably never happen.


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